Week In Review – Foiled!

Sometimes it’s just when things are ticking along nicely that life throws a spanner in the works. This week I somehow went from feeling great to having a cough, and after the experience of last year, I made sure to take a step back and look after myself so it doesn’t linger. It was the end of the week before the cough put in an appearance so I still got some training done earlier in the week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

I began my week with one of the”bonus” Hatha classes my teacher is putting on prior to the holidays. Another lovely chance to take some time for myself and stretch.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning it was REALLY cold and our street looked quite slippery, however I was certain it would be ok on the main road. I dug out my all terrain shoes once more, wrapped up and walked out of our street to find it was, indeed, better on the main roads so I was able to run 4 miles on an out and back route, but at an easier pace so I felt in control and generally running on the roads rather than the pavement to avoid any slippery patches. Despite that, I still enjoyed being out in the bracing air and getting some exercise.

gp0Z+ae6RMaHYbNp%wcuUAHowever when I got home Tuesday night I wasn’t feeling too great. My throat was a bit scratchy and my body felt achy, but it felt like how I get when I’m really tired so I was fairly certain I could sleep it off. I ate my dinner, took a couple of paracetamol and had an early night. As it turns out I did sleep it off and woke up on Wednesday morning feeling back to normal. I did, however, opt for another restful evening since it was Steve’s birthday and I thought we should spend some time together (read: I wanted a slice of birthday cake!).

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LJQg9jqIR+CcOqSk3L3GzAThursday was always going to be a long day as I had a parents’ evening which was chockablock with appointments, but I still decided to get up early and have my 4 mile run as I knew I would feel better for it. After being a bit off earlier in the week and knowing I would be tired by the evening, I kept the pace nice and easy and just enjoyed the comparatively milder temperatures after my chilly run on Tuesday.

wcI3NPe8SCmGmEGRvBmDIQBy the timeI got home it was quite late and I just wanted to grab a snack then head to bed. I did take a moment to open the more interesting-looking mail I had – the medal from my November virtual event. I entered this one back in about July as I thought the medal was so cool!

%7lNIUIfS1eziYrgzOEiMwI rounded off the work week with another PT session down at Steve’s studio. I had been really sleepy in the morning so it wasn’t a circuit this time, just some basic TRX exercises to keep developing strength and mobility.

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He just can’t help himself!

eNIerb5zQ66Lm4U1DHp3LgAnd then it was parkrunday once again. We were still using the alternative course we were on last week, but this time I could run however I chose. What I chose, was a reasonably steady pace as since the parents’ evening I had been coughing a little as my throat was a bit irritated. Not sore at all, just something tickling a little from time to time, so I didn’t want to overdo it. I actually lost a little time as the loose end from one of the drawstring “laces” on my trail shoes worked its way free and I was worried about catching it on something and tripping, so took a moment to sort it out. I finished a little over 25 minutes which, given that this is only the third run of our new “parkrun year” earned me a “congratulations on your fastest time this year” comment in my email. I love when that happens!

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Unfortunately as the evening wore on I found myself coughing more and more, to the point that I actually slept in the spare room so as not to disturb Steve. I had already decided before bed that I wouldn’t go for my Sunday run so didn’t bother setting an alarm. It was almost 10am before I woke up so I must have needed that! I actually felt a lot better and enjoyed a relaxing day cuddling the kittens and watching my favourite Christmas movie.

bRQMKKxSTAOyrpBcFTjXSAIt’s frustrating to pick up a cough at this point, but probably better to get it out of the way now so I can be fit to get stuck into marathon training properly in January. Fingers crossed it shifts quickly.

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
Any tips for warding off the winter coughs and sneezes? 

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The Year Of Me!!! – November Update

11 months down and just 1 to go. That means it’s time for my monthly check in with my 2018 goals in The Year of Me!!!

1.Run 1000km (621 miles)
Since the end of September I’ve had this one wrapped up so now it’s really just about maintaining consistency as I build a solid base for marathon training. I’m already at my highest annual mileage ever and thanks to another strong month, it’s looking likely that my final total will be 800+!

2.Commit to a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga on at least 5 days of the week
I love yoga and really want to have a regular home practice to complement my 2 weekly classes, but I’m consistently finding I’m coming in at 4 times per week rather than 5 right now. Certainly, it’s not the biggest problem in the world to have, but I would like to get this one back on track for December.

3.Read at least 30 books
Another one that I already completed. I added a further 2 books to my total this month so am now at 37. Obviously, I’d now love that to be a nice round 40 by the end of the year.

4.Be in bed by 10pm at least 3 times per week
The change to my routine to encompass early runs has definitely helped with this one. Now that I’m getting up earlier a couple of times a week I’m much more conscious of making sure I get to bed sharp. And now that I’m several weeks into a buy term, I am noticing that my fatigue levels are lower than before so the new routine seems to be suiting me so far.

5.Watch at least one Ted/Ted X talk per week
Since beginning a 100 day challenge to watch 100 TED talks, this one has been well on track. I’m not necessarily managing one a day, but I will watch 100 within the time frame and the end of November saw me at 82 TED talks since mid-September.

6.Listen to at least 8 podcast episodes per week
One of my favourite goals. To be honest, I don’t even think about how many I’m listening to any more as I just love keeping up with my favourites and listen to at least one show per day, sometimes a little of a second. I’m now totally up to date with the ones I listen to regularly and have slotted in a few past episodes of ones I dip into form time to time.

7.Respond to at least one WordPress prompt per month
Back to being last minute, this month I responded to the photo prompt Favourite Place.

8.Be more mindful in my phone/social media use
I’m really noticing an improvement here. During the week I only really have time to look at my phone in the evening and am conscious of setting it aside when I’m doing something else like watching TV. I do look at it a bit more at weekends, but my screen reports from Apple suggest I’m not overdoing it. Yes, I enjoy some aspects of social media, but it’s refreshing not to feel tied to looking at things all the time.

Are you on track with your goals for the year?
What can you do in the remaining weeks of the year to help you achieve a goal?

Friday Finds – 7th December

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Happy Friday one and all! I hope you’ve had a good week and have some fun (maybe festive?) plans for the weekend. I’m here to share a few interesting bits and pieces I’ve been looking at this week.

To start, a little more on the annual Strava report that I mentioned last week. First, Sport Techie reports a huge rise in popularity for virtual events. I assume it to be testament to the use of social media and various apps that connect runners and cyclists, meaning that where previously someone might have worked out alone, they can now turn that workout into a shared experience.

Also delving into the details (with a US slant, that is) is Martin Fritz Huber for Outside. In this column, he looks at a few of the takeaways from the Strava report, many of which will not be a surprise. What I did find interesting is the massive increase in race participation for women and the fact that in the US women are racing more than men. Could that be the impact of recent amazing performances from the likes of Shalane Flanagan and Des Linden?

Meanwhile, Alex Hutchinson has been writing about the connection between fitness and life expectancy. He reports on some interesting studies comparing fitness gained from working out with the fitness impact of good genes. The results are perhaps not what you might expect, but unless you’re going for some lab-based testing I would still be recommending maintaining fitness through physical activity.

Which connects nicely with another piece recently written by Hutchinson for Outside. In this piece, he is considering the role of VO2 max on health and life expectancy. While VO2 max can be improved, genetics also have a part to play, and a higher VO2 max tends to point towards longer life expectancy. To be honest, I simply feel better the fitter I am so will continue to remain as fit as I can for as long as I can.

And finally, did you catch this story about a recent half marathon in Shenzhen, China? Sadly it made the headlines for all the wrong reasons as a whopping 237 runners were caught cutting the course…by a traffic camera! I just can’t understand why someone would enter a race then cut a chunk out of it. I couldn’t reconcile myself with that and would feel like the medal was a constant reminder of my guilt.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess 

Week In Review – Pacing Fun

Another really consistent week of training for me and I’m loving it. At the weekend I was remembering that it was around this point last year that I became ill and after our parkrun birthday celebration I didn’t run again until right before Christmas. It took me a long time to let go of a nagging feeling that I had lost a lot of fitness, but right now I’m feeling good and fingers crossed that can continue. Following my now-established structure, my week was:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 12 miles

I knew I was going to have a super-busy week at work as I wanted to really get cracking on the big pile of tasks to be completed before the holidays. This made my Monday Hatha class really important to give me a bit of headspace. This class was the last in the 5 week block but my teacher is going to put on 2 more classes before stopping for Christmas. I think it will be just the thing to help keep me sane!

It was up ‘n’ at ’em again on Tuesday morning for my run. It was chilly, but I seem to have reached a place where I just get my kit on and get on with it – anyone who can keep going through The Beast From The East isn’t going to be stopped by a chilly morning! I ran a 4 mile out and back at a comfortable effort then got ready for the rest of my day. Running in the morning is really making a difference to how productive I am – I went in on a mission to tick a number of things off my “to do” list and actually did!

1mx5ZKImTa2iZnBuSir4tQWednesday is a rest day and should have been orchestra, however I worked quite late and when I got home the weather was horrendous so I decided I needed a night off to help me deal with how busy things are right now.

The extra rest was a good idea and I felt ready for another 4 mile run on Thursday morning. The weather had still been pretty stormy overnight and the forecast wasn’t too great, but there was a break in it around when I was running so only a little light rain for the last mile or so. As is becoming customary, it was a little faster than my Tuesday run, but with about the same effort.

cf0DMIONST29LRqGeXWhFQMy day was pretty productive again so I was ready for my Ashtanga class in the evening. I’m increasingly noticing how I connect movement and breath, flowing between postures smoothly. The only slight “incident” came when I over-corrected my headstand and did an impromptu roly-poly, but I was absolutely fine and just went straight back into a (much more successful!) headstand.

After a busy week I was glad to reach Friday and a training session with Steve. He had a circuit set up for me (TRX, Core Momentum Trainer and Bosu) but first I had a request. I had been aware of struggling in balance postures on my left hand side and was sure it had something to do with the way either my ankle or hip were moving. Steve saw straight away what it was and we did some exercises to correct the problem and immediately there was an improvement in my balance. It will be interesting to observe if there have been any changes in my next yoga class. I did still do the circuit workout and it was hard work!

nqa%8v7TQ0KDiOay6keJTQOn Saturday morning it was pacer day at parkrun and I had my usual 28 minutes.

IMG_0474The stormy weather meant that the grass section we use was not really an option, so we were using an altered route which did still go over a stretch of grass but this was much firmer underfoot. The parkrun rules for alternative courses is that they should ideally measure slightly longer than the regular route to avoid a slew of PBs that prove tricky to beat, so I wasn’t entirely sure how this would work for my pacing. I made a slight adjustment to my time and set off, trying to settle into a consistent pace.

I actually ended up running with someone and chatting my way around most of the course. It was a really nice way to spend the run and as it turned out, helped me to get my pacing spot on. This was probably the most satisfying text I’ve ever received!

fullsizeoutput_2979From there, it was the usual quick trip home to shower and change before meeting Steve’s brother. Since the place we go is getting busier as Christmas approaches, we now have a standing booking for our table to make sure we don’t miss out!

By the time we enjoyed our breakfast, got the food shopping and put everything away at home, I actually didn’t have very much time to myself as I was off back out again in the evening. My sister works for our local theatre and concert hall so gets complimentary tickets for in-house productions. Saturday was the press night of the Christmas pantomime “Snow White and the Seven Dames” and I accompanied her and my parents to see it. We grabbed some dinner at the theatre first of all, but since the official panto menu hadn’t started yet I was worried that I wouldn’t get a turkey dinner. Never fear, it was the daily special so after a bowl of nachos to share, we tucked into a huuuuge plate of festive goodness. Turkey dinner number one of the season, done!

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fullsizeoutput_297aThe show itself was really good. I hadn’t been so impressed last year but really enjoyed this one. I even got a souvenir in the form of a light-up unicorn (because unicorns!) and dad got us ice creams at the interval.

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oV1eBg0%Qk6dbpXWQefUnASince the show started at 7pm I was home at a reasonable hour ahead of a longer run on Sunday morning. Following the progressive distance pattern I’ve been on lately, I decided on 12 miles and even though it was a little chilly, it was another good run. I’m feeling really comfortable at that sort of distance right now, and my pace is around what I’d love my marathon pace to be so I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops as my mileage increases. Hopefully I’ve built a solid base and am ready to hit the “official” weeks of marathon training.

tFnnuUv9Rd2EoAcGsDISqwWe had another quick trip round the house tidying up and doing housework before a visit from my parents. It was their last weekend here before heading away for a bit so mum was keen to spend some time with the kittens (and spoil them with treats, of course!).

CX%YY4pyTl2imdbm0rQ3rQAnd with that, the week came to an end. Now for the fun and games of December!

Do you like to go to a pantomime or Christmas show?
Ever run PRECISELY the time you set out to?

Friday Finds – 30th November

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Can you believe it’s the end of November? Festivities are getting underway and I’m planning what to get the kittens for their first Christmas! I hope you’ve got some lovely plans for the weekend, which we’ll get started with a little light reading.

As the end of the year approaches (!!), Strava has published its annual report and this year it reveals some interesting differences in activity preferences by gender. Although Strava is more heavily used by men, it seems that among women using the platform, running is more popular than cycling, however this is reversed among male users. Of course we can’t really extrapolate that to the entire running population (Strava began as a platform for cyclists) but I still find it interesting and wonder how far it is true amongst those I know.

This next piece is a little different, but I’m drawn to the idea it encapsulates. The first couple of paragraphs introduce ideas we wouldn’t immediately associate with running, however the consideration of the structured approach to training and how we cope when that structure is absent, is something I can certainly relate to. My favourite idea in the piece is neatly summed up when the writer tells us, “As in running as in life, structure isn’t something that binds us and oppresses us, but rather it’s the framework within which we’re able to thrive, test our limits and make sense of the world.” What do you think?

As someone with a definite penchant for leggings, I was interested to read this piece about the evolution of athleisure in US fashion. I found the history of some items fascinating, particular with regard to gender differences, and was amazed to learn that in the average wardrobe (especially the male wardrobe) there is far more “athleisure” clothing than we might have realised.

I also enjoyed treading this excerpt from a new book called The Happy Runner. In this extract the writers focus on self-acceptance, leading me to conclude that this will likely be a book that looks at the more mental side of running, something which really interests me. Check it out and see what you think.

And finally, if you’re looking for a challenge and have more money than you know what to do with, then this new race might be for you. It’s an Antarctic marathon that begins almost immediately you get off your plane. But beware – fail to finish quickly enough and that plane will be taking off without you! Anyone in? 😂

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Roll Up! Roll Up!

Where are the weeks going? It’s practically the end of November (and the weather is really beginning to realise it!). I’m feeling pretty settled into my new training pattern and am really enjoying it. Here’s how my week looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10 miles

After some faster running last weekend, my calves were in need of a good stretch so it was great to get a chance to do this at my Monday night yoga class. It still felt relaxing, but it also gave my body exactly what it needed in that moment so was a great way to end my day.

Tuesday, of course, saw me up early for the first of my two midweek runs. My legs felt a little weary, but then that’s exactly how I’ll feel when my mileage builds up in my next marathon training cycle so I simply embraced the opportunity to run a little slower to allow my body to recover. I actually felt quite pleased with this run and it set me up for the day ahead.

Lh%lK5uJQ8KF1fNCu6jk6wAt work we were marking Book Week Scotland with lots of different events throughout the week, and on Tuesday we were having a staff lunch for which the English department were tasked with making the cakes (a very important task!). Baking is not really my thing, but I rustled up a simple traybake to take in. Since I had made a trial batch over the weekend we had plenty to enjoy at home during the week as well, and Steve was happy to help haha!

RZivIHMATUSGuH3BmjrhqgWednesday continues to be my rest day and with no work commitments to attend, I was able to get back to orchestra. The last time I played was at our recent concert, so we still have a few more weeks of beginning to rehearse our new music for the spring concert before the Christmas break. It was nice to be back and get a chance to catch up with everyone.

On Thursday morning I’ll admit to having a bit of a tough time getting out of bed. The kittens were snuggled in beside me, purring contentedly, and it was tempting to stay put! However, I got organised and stepped out the front door only to discover that it had been cold overnight and our street was really slippery-looking so I was delayed a little as I went back to change into more grippy shoes. Conscious of not wanting to fall and hurt myself, I stuck to a steady, controlled pace and completed my 4 mile loop safely. Ironically, by the time I was leaving for work the temperature had risen sufficiently to melt the thick ice on my car windscreen so I avoided having to scrape it – a stroke of luck!

okh9E%pAQ4WA+mxjuW9NFAIn the evening I had my Ashtanga class and really enjoyed the chance to slow down and focus on my breath after a really busy day at work. Everything felt really good and I felt much better heading home afterwards.

Friday saw me heading to Steve’s studio after work for another training session. We’re really focusing on knee drive and hip mobility to help me run better and prepare my body for the rigours of a marathon training cycle. This meant another circuit using the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer, however the circuit is different each time so my body does not become accustomed to it. Hopefully as the weeks go by this, combined with the running and yoga, will result in some improvements in my performance.

m1jGjo5DRA+nzhPB7wvGvwI was up at my usual time on Saturday, but out the door much earlier as I had to drop my car off for its first service at 8am. This gave me plenty of time to walk along to where we have parkrun and take care of a quick errand. The slight snag was that since it was our event’s 5th birthday, we were having a circus-themed parkrun but my chosen costume – a circus cat – didn’t exactly feel like something I should be wearing when I dropped the car off! This resulted in me sitting around in the foyer of the sports centre before anyone from the parkrun team was there and being asked by a rather bemused photographer why I wasn’t in costume (apparently me wearing leggings covered in paw prints is just seen as “normal” now 😂). By the time everyone was arriving I had donned my cat ears and pinned my homemade tail to my Spibelt so was ready to go.

sg2YF8rDSxKt9KwdrAqu1gAs well as the fancy dress theme (which extended to the RD’s race briefing!) we were invited to bring donations for the local food bank. I hate that we live in a society where such a thing is necessary, but was heartened to see how much we brought between us. Such a simple way to help others and my school is actually doing a reverse advent calendar this year to collect donations for the food bank near us so, I imagine we should be able to make a massive difference given the size of the school community.

IMG_0530The run itself was good fun. I decided to take it easy (running with a tail was certainly interesting. I actually grabbed hold of it and kept the end in my hand during the second half of the run!). The grass section was really muddy, but I had anticipated that and worn my Salomon Speedcross shoes so I would have a bit of grip. I picked up the speed towards the end and finished in 25:16, safe in the knowledge that whatever time I ran, my results email would congratulate me on my fastest time of the year haha!

Post-run I enjoyed a few goodies from the cake table before getting some “cat-like” photos!

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jodnYh0uSZOo2TvO3FvAlAAnd then Steve dropped me off at the garage as I had a message to say my car was ready…except it wasn’t. Why on earth do garages always say your car is ready then when you get there you have to wait at least another 15 minutes while they finish washing it? It’s either ready or it’s not people! And to me, “ready” means that since I have a service package and don’t have anything to pay, I should be able to walk in, collect my keys and go. *sigh*.

Of course all of this meant that the cafe we go to would no longer be serving breakfast so I wouldn’t get my bacon croissant 🙁. I had already told Steve just to go ahead without me so I headed home, got showered and had something to eat at home before driving into town to meet him to get the shopping. I was definitely feeling a bit fed up as a selection of roadworks combined with the beginnings of Christmas shopping traffic meant that the roads were really busy and it took me ages to travel a relatively short distance. No wonder I fancied a restorative afternoon nap!

I decided on 10 miles for my longer Sunday run this week but was in no particular hurry to get myself out the door too early. The weather was pretty damp and it was a bit chilly so I made sure to find some suitable kit for the conditions and set off on one of my favourite routes. Despite the changeable weather, I actually really enjoyed the run and, like last week, ran at a comfortable effort level that I felt like I could sustain for much longer. I was surprised once again to check my watch afterwards and find that I had covered the undulating route in an average 9:09 per mile – spot on 4 hour marathon pace! Whether or not that remains the same as the mileage builds up remains to be seen, but right now it’s a real confidence booster and shows me that the extra midweek run, work in the studio with Steve and continued yoga is really paying off for me.

iXMJvvftT6ehbkgiVbFImQMy parents visited again in the afternoon (any excuse to spend time with the kittens!) so we nipped out on some quick errands and cleared the house up before the arrived. As ever, mum had treats in her bag for the kittens and my boy clearly wasn’t getting enough of those for his liking so disappeared head first into the handbag to fish out a packet and actually managed to tear it open! What a wee monkey!

EtuaBJNMQHuE4Y%6PwRVEAI rounded the day off with a relaxing bath (after catching up with my ironing!) and got myself ready for the week ahead.

How has your week been?
What would you wear for a circus-themed event?

Friday Finds – 23rd November

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Happy Friday! I hope my friends in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving. While it may not be a holiday here in the UK, we certainly feel the influence these days with the Black Friday sales. If you need a break from shopping madness, here are a few bits and pieces to read…

With Thanksgiving in mind, let’s kick off with this column from Brad Stulberg at Outside as he examines the role of gratitude in our performance. It makes for interesting reading and is perhaps a reminder for us all to embrace gratitude in our lives.

Also from Outside, Alex Hutchinson’s latest column delves more deeply into the Nike Vaporfly 4% – a topic I have mentioned a few times in Friday Finds. Rather than yet another piece about the efficiency they promote, Hutchinson seeks answers to two questions: how do they work and should they be allowed? If you’re curious, have a read.

These days there’s a multitude of technology available to help us improve our running, and debate about how reliant we might be on things like GPS watches and data is now fairly prevalent. With that in mind, I was interested to read this piece in which the awesome Des Linden discusses how she uses data in her running and how that helps to enhance the experience for her. I’d be interested to know how you feel about running and data.

Bur yes, it is possible to take our commitment to an activity too far. In this compelling piece from The Guardian, Richard Godwin looks at how competitive our lives have become and how even our leisure activities are becoming increasingly competitive. The long-term effects of a highly-competitive life is, of course, what is most worrying as it can fuel unhealthy perfectionism. What are your thoughts on this one?

And finally, let’s finish with something inspiring. Ginette Bedard is amazing, and if I can still be anywhere near as active as she is when I’m 85, I’ll be very happy indeed!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Feeling Good!

Now that I’ve been running in the morning for 4 weeks, I think I’m really starting to feel the benefit as my body is more adjusted to the change and I’m starting to notice the impact. The pattern to my week right now is fairly fixed and seems to be working:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 8 miles

My Monday yoga class felt quite restorative. I think that time to focus on my breath and movement as the week begins is really beneficial. As Mondays go it was a decent one as there was no meeting at the end of the day, but most of the time my Mondays are pretty full-on so I think the yoga class is now key not just to my physical health but to my mental health as well because if things have got on top of me during the day, the class helps me to deal with it and clear my head.

Since I had cut my mileage back on the Sunday before, my legs were feeling fresh and as a result my morning 4 miles were a bit quicker than usual without any additional effort. I never thought I would enjoy getting up earlier to go for a run, yet I’m actually finding that I look forward to it in a weird kind of way and certainly notice how much better I feel for the rest of the day. It also means I’ve created a bit of space in the evening so I have a bit more downtime to refresh. Win win!

7JhurMc1QsiGeo%x7sf7WwAlthough Wednesday is my rest day, it was another less-than-restful one again as I had another parents’ evening. In short that meant no orchestra and a reeeeeeally long work day!

Despite this, I found a little more energy on Thursday morning for another strong run. Later  in the day I had my Ashtanga class where my work on Wheel and Headstand continues to pay off. I was actually thinking back to my earliest classes and how hard I found some postures compared to now. Back then I thought it was all about “just” finding more flexibility, but I now know it’s also about physical and mental strength as well e.g. my breakthrough with the headstand a few weeks ago totally changed my approach, yet realistically nothing much had changed physically from the few weeks before, it was a change in mindset which meant I was able to do it. Powerful stuff!

Friday was an inservice (inset) day at work so it was mostly a day of meetings/presentations, however it was also a day of atypical eating as there were bacon rolls at interval and a colleague brought cake for lunchtime. Fortunately I had arranged to go to the studio for a workout with Steve again so worked some of it off! Since we are focusing on knee drive/hip mobility, he gave me another circuit using the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer. Hard work but I know it will be helping.

Saturday’s parkrun also gave me a chance to run off the bacon rolls (yeah, I took one for the team and had a second since there were some left and the business manager was keen that nothing went to waste. Always happy to oblige when it comes to food!). Having produced a decent time the week before (24:18) I wanted to see if I could shave another few seconds off as the reality is that I’ve been hovering in the lower end of the 24-25 minute mark since about late June and wanted to see a little progress before conditions slow things down.

I set off quickly and although I slowed slightly in the second mile as I ran over the slightly squidgy grass (going from 7:43 to 7:50 per mile) I was stunned to check my stats later and find I had run mile 3 in a speedy (for me) 7:36! Combined with my usual just sub-7 finishing pace, I not only shaved a few seconds off, but was pretty convincing with a 23:40 finish time.That’s actually my second fastest time of the current parkrun year (our birthday is Saturday so this was the last run of the parkrun year) and it feels great to finish on a high.

IMG_0299We had our usual post-run treat of a cup of tea and bacon croissant with Steve’s brother, then ventured off into town for a short time before getting our food shopping. I normally can’t be bothered with the town on a Saturday and this week was particularly busy, but it was busy because the Christmas lights were being switched on that evening so there were loads of things going on.

We started with the chocolate and gin festival, enjoying a few samples of festive gins (which meant getting the shopping done whilst experiencing a lovely warm glow!).

f+vJbWVjTgWjDy8+15EWVwThen on our way back to the car we checked out the four-legged friends in attendance and the ice sculptures created for the occasion.

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3Kv+mQ%BREyezQa2t9GxvAAfter all that I needed an afternoon nap before my evening watching Strictly with the kittens. It was Blackpool week and I got a little overexcited haha!

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TxzruepbRRaHpAllTURitgSunday morning was a slightly longer run. Still not heading into the big miles of marathon training, but building a solid base for those miles so I opted for 8 miles after last week’s 10k. I was just running to feel and enjoying my podcast – no pushing the pace, simply feeling comfortable and expecting something like a 9:15 per mile average, so I was a little surprised when I finished with my watch telling me I averaged 8:59 per mile! The culmination of a strong week and no doubt coming from the consistency recently and work I’ve been doing to build endurance and improve my knee drive. Fingers crossed I can keep building on this.

h2uvJLXPSMCpNtENQuJV2gWe had a few errands and housework after that, then my parents paid a visit as mum had something for me. I had offered to pick it up as it was just a small thing, but I think she was keen to see the kittens a few more times before heading off for the winter so they came to us for a bit. It was nice to chat over tea and a slice of cake (the kittens had cat treats produced from mum’s handbag of wonders!).

Overall I’m feeling really good about this week. Perhaps my decisions about reorganising my training are beginning to pay off and hopefully I can see some real benefit from this as I continue.

Are the Christmas lights on yet where you live?
What’s your favourite kind of cake?

Week In Review – Music and Remembrance

Another week, another week in review! Things are just ticking along for me training-wise right now and we’re coming into that time of year when there are all sorts of other things going on that take up time, so I’m not putting any pressure on myself when it comes to my training, I just want to aim for consistency. Here’s what I did last week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10k

My week got off to a good start with a Monday which did not have a staff meeting at the end of it. I couldn’t believe the difference that made to how much less tired I felt at the end of the day, but it created a little more space to get organised before yoga. I was really pleased to get some post which included a fun new T-shirt and the medal from a virtual race I had been taking part in during August, September and October to cover 140 miles (mostly done in September and October as my August mileage was low).

IMG_0128Yoga was nice and relaxing. I’m enjoying the new space our class is in (within the same building) but it was unusual to be moving into yoga postures to a soundtrack of fireworks since it was bonfire night and we weren’t too far from an organised display!

8J2jJbK%TNq4YXJdnV52JgI was up early on Tuesday to get out for my run. My intention is to treat this one as a recovery run, that way when my Sunday long run mileage is much higher during marathon training, my body will be used to an easier effort on a Tuesday. Right now, this means a 4 mile loop at a reasonably easy pace to build some base miles and a little bit of endurance.

+ejLWRumRwG9m45yzbtfEwThe rest of Tuesday was pretty busy. It began with me observing a PE lesson out on the school playing fields so I went in wearing my kit and had a change of clothes in a bag for afterwards. Right before leaving the house I glanced in the bag to see that the kittens were sending me to work with one of their toys which they had added to the bag 😹

56318327619__B5857985-8740-4872-80A8-36BDDA5550E2Wednesday, however, was very different. I had a parents’ evening after work which made for a very long day. It was always going to be a rest day from any training, and a good thing too since I was pretty tired by the time I got home and had very little time for myself.

Despite this, I still got up on Thursday morning and headed out for my run. I decided to repeat my loop from Tuesday and see how it compared. Interestingly, with no particular change in my effort level I was actually a little quicker. Perhaps the difference of longer recovery time since my Sunday long run.

IMG_0146That evening I was at my Ashtanga yoga class and my usual teacher was back. I found that I felt really strong and when we got to the backbends (when I usually do one bridge, one wheel and one final bridge) I started with a bridge then held two strong wheel postures. Any time I’ve tried that before, the second one wasn’t great so that’s a pleasing indication of developing strength. I was also really pleased with my headstand after not having the chance to practise it last time. This week I flipped up into the headstand reasonably easily and held for 10 long breaths – the longest I’ve managed so far. At the end of the class I felt fantastic.

Steve was able to fit me in for a training session after work on Friday so I was back at the studio again. This week he had me working through a circuit of exercises (mainly using the TRX but with one using the Core Momentum Trainer) with 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 3 rounds. It was actually quite hard work! Hopefully this will continue to help me build strength and improve my running.

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He just can’t help himself!

The weekend itself was a packed one. I started on Saturday morning with parkrun. It was quite a nice morning and I was curious to see where my fitness was as my morning runs have been at an easier pace. Although I slowed very slightly with each mile, I was pleased with my finish time of 24:18 as that’s the fastest I’ve run since mid-September. We’re heading into the time of year when a hard effort doesn’t always result in a fast time due to the weather/course conditions so it was good to get a decent time in just now as testament to my recent training.

IMG_0198We did go for our usual post-run coffee/bacon croissant with Steve’s brother and squeezed in a food shop before I was due at the concert hall for my orchestra rehearsal.

f0ooccCfTdG1313%woQEvAAfter 3 hours of rehearsing Steve picked me up to get home for food and a change of clothes before returning for my concert. Some of our music this time presented some challenge, but with the full forces of the orchestra in place, I thought we sounded fantastic. I was pretty tired afterwards though!

TP%q1JvXRviDBS+%EnUCdQOn Sunday I headed out for my run a little earlier than usual (for a Sunday) as Steve and I had some plans for later. I’ve been building mileage over the last 3 weeks so decided to mimic the pattern I follow during marathon training and cut back this week to 10k. It wasn’t the nicest of mornings weather-wise, but I enjoyed the run.

uV+oyp%2S9m+d4SEO8cJWwOnce showered and changed, we drove down to St Andrews to be part of the Pages of the Sea event to mark the centenary of the armistice. At selected beaches around the UK, film-maker Danny Boyle was encouraging communities to come together to say goodbye to various individuals who left these shores during the First World War. In St Andrews, this was Elsie Inglis, a pioneering surgeon and suffragette. The image of each individual was created in the sand while the tide was out, then gradually washed away as the tide came back in to say a final goodbye. There’s some great time-lapse footage of the image of Wilfred Owen being created on the beach in Folkestone on the BBC website.

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Photo credit: National Theatre of Scotland Facebook page

6rTLfWU1RqaRNWKwfXm43AAs well as the main image, there were stencils available so individuals could create the image of a soldier to add to a kind of “army in the sand” which would also be washed away with the tide. These could be dedicated to someone from your own family that you wanted to honour. Mine was for my great great uncle who died of cellulitis from the wound sustained after being shot at the Somme in 1916. His memorial is in Rouen.

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bmWgX%2+QBWiRTuKRZMicAIt was quite chilly and about to rain so we headed off to warm up with a coffee and cake before returning to the beach to see the images being washed away.

UGRDkbEcTFyKaK4oOMM71AWhen we got back, the volunteers who had been leading the event were gathered by the remainder of the stencilled soldiers and reading aloud the poem specially commissioned for the occasion. It was written by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, whose work I have been studying with my seniors this year, and I have been stressing to them how incredible it is to be studying the work of a living poet who is recording the same world they are experiencing. I really like this poem and loved the fact that copies were available at this event, all printed on the back of an image of someone being commemorated. The whole thing was a remarkable and unique tribute and I’m so glad we made the effort to go.

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jaC3pReoSjy3efDauVUiagArriving home, it was finally time to relax in front of the TV and get some kitten snuggles.Phew!

0TvrtUBZSSO02uZVjQRhtQWhat have you had a breakthrough with recently?
Did you go to any events marking Remembrance Day?

Week In Review – Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Darkness. That’s all I have to say about this week. Dark in the mornings when I run, getting dark in the evening when I leave work and no chance of running in the daylight during the work week. I actually don’t mind running in the dark, but I do miss those long summer days and can’t wait until they return. In the meantime, I’ll just keep swimming running as I know that helps me to feel better through the winter months and I love how strong I feel in the spring after working hard through the colder weather. Here’s what I did this past week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10 miles

Monday was a pretty long day and mentally exhausting. I’m trying hard to remind myself not to trust a Monday as right now they don’t really make me feel good, but that all changes when I get to my yoga class and this was the first one in a new 5 week block. It was so nice to have the time for myself to tune into my breath, listen to my body and stretch away the worst of the day.

On Tuesday I faced the first test of my new early morning running regime – it was cold! I was ok with the dark (let’s face it, it would be dark for evening runs at this point in the year too) but last week was fairly mild in the morning so when I had to rouse myself from my cosy bed into a distinctly chillier room, it was a bit of a challenge! Thankfully I did get on with it and completed a nice 4 mile loop. I’m keeping the pace fairly easy on my Tuesday run so it was quite pleasant, even when it started pouring with rain half way round!

This, of course, meant another rest day on Wednesday so that I could get to my orchestra rehearsal without having to rush or feel pressured. I did have “a bit of a day” so did a short home yoga practice before I went, but otherwise enjoyed the break and bit of headspace before my rehearsal.

I was slightly later home than I wanted, but still got myself out of bed on Thursday morning for my run. After my soaking on Tuesday morning I checked the forecast carefully and noted that there was a 90% chance of rain at the time I would be running. This meant I dug out a jacket to wear and, predictably, there was no rain at all. Typical! Still, I enjoyed my run, this time choosing an out-and-back to cover 4 miles which I’m finding to be an ideal distance for a pre-work run.

That evening saw me at Ashtanga yoga, however my usual teacher wasn’t there and we had another teacher covering for her. She’s taught us before and I like her, but I always find it interesting how different the class can feel with another teacher, particularly given that we are following a specific sequence of postures. I enjoyed the class and did pick up a couple of tips for ways to move into one or two of the postures, but missed the opportunity to work on my headstand.

I’m trying to fit in a training session with Steve every Friday, so headed to the studio after work. We have been using the TRX to work on upper body/core and I like this as the TRX offers all sorts of ways to work with my own bodyweight and it’s easy to progress within the exercises we do. This week’s gem was a kind of one-armed press up, which I was at first doubtful of but did actually manage. Go me! I definitely felt like I had earned my Friday night food this week.

I4mtEOkRSB21dH7KadFlfwThe forecast for Saturday morning was for more rain, but after a week when I had to practically chisel the ice from my windscreen a couple of times it was nice to return to some milder weather. I opted for capris for parkrun, but could probably have got away with my shorts.

It was Steve’s first stint as Run Director so he was away pretty sharp and I drove down a little later. The weather at this point wasn’t too bad, but I did wear an extra layer to keep me dry if the rain started. To be honest, I avoided the worst of the rain while I was running but there was quite a strong wind which made some parts of the course feel quite testing. I definitely felt like I was working harder than the 8ish minute mile I was clocking, so was pleased to finish feeling strong with a 24:43, especially as it’s been a couple of weeks since I did any faster running.

BGSVNyJ7Sm+5Gg+Xks9pnAAs always, we were meeting Steve’s brother for a coffee but Steve needed to finish his RD duties so I arranged just to meet him there as that gave me a chance to head home and shower/change. By the time I got my bacon croissant I was STARVING and guzzled it down pretty quickly before enjoying a nice pot of tea. We then got our weekend errands done and spent the afternoon chilling out at home. I, as is becoming customary, had at least 1 kitten pinned to my side at all times 😂. Incredibly, they’re 6 months old now and my boy, in particular, is becoming quite the lap cat. No objections to that from me!

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Room for two kittens. Just!

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He’s quite the “Strictly” fan 😹

I knew I would be quite busy on Sunday so made sure to get out for my run reasonably sharp. The sun was out again and after being all bundled up last week, it was mild enough for me to get my shorts back out. I do like when I can do that. I had decided on my route in advance as I wanted to cover 10 miles, but hadn’t realised that the 5k and 10k Mo Runs were taking place and that I would end up in the same place as part of their route was on the path around the North Inch. In the end I ran there anyway, just in the opposite direction and making sure to stay out of the way of those racing. The path is wide enough and there were still lots of people walking and cycling anyway so I didn’t think I would get in the way. It was actually quite interesting to watch the runners and passed the time nicely. Before I knew it I had run my lap and was on my way home.

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BArf+YoBQ5uJTrYUb5wVAwAfter my run I got showered, changed and ate my lunch then it was time to get ready for an orchestra rehearsal. Our concert is next Saturday, but I’ll miss the rehearsal during the week because of a parents’ night so I wanted to make sure I was at this one. It was good but I was definitely in need of a chance to relax when I got home.

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IMG_0093After all that, I really enjoyed relaxing in my Sunday night bath to round off the week. Now to do it all over again…!

56305760969__464AF715-26F4-4258-8B2E-1AE4A2B00FDDHow easy do you find it to adjust to the winter darkness?
Ever accidentally ended up running in the same place as another event?